Waters Continues to Lead the Way


It's hard not to notice the dramatic turnaround that coach Gary Waters has had on Cleveland State. From mediocrity, he's put together a strong run of 20-win seasons and playoff appearances, both in the NIT and NCAA tournament. Even as he's lost stalwarts Cedrick Jackson and J'Nathan Bullock to graduation, and now fields a squad with no seniors, Waters is still talking 20-wins and playoffs.

Cleveland Magazine profiled the coach in last month's issue.

But first, you have to understand what a master of storytelling Gary Waters is. (“A miniseries will be a mega blockbuster by the time Gary’s done telling,” says Bernadette, his wife.) And the scriptural story of the Walls of Jericho doesn’t need that kind of help. After the Israelites had run around the walls seven times, they heard the horn sound, and the walls fell. The Israelites had known that they would because they had believed.

So, on this night, by the time Waters had finished telling his players about the Israelites, about the seven times, about the horn and the falling walls, they too believed — oh yes, they did. They followed the tapeline that had been put on the floor of the locker room: out the door and back in, seven times, marching. And when on the seventh time around Waters blew into a small child’s megaphone, blew the horn, … well, Butler was coming down.

“Nearly every time Butler played us, they beat us. They have beaten us six out of seven times,” the coach boomed. “Butler never loses in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Always wins. But not this time. Not this time.

“This time, like the Walls of Jericho … Butler. Is. Coming. Down.”

That, my friends, is how you do a pre-game motivation speech.

Cleveland Mag also talked about the goals Waters has set for each season, and the astounding way that he's gotten his teams to reach each and every benchmark. Read the whole thing.